2008 AEDC Annual Report

It is my pleasure to present to you, on behalf of the Board of Directors, the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation’s 2008 annual report to AEDC investors and the Anchorage business community.

As we consider the current global financial crisis, we have much to be grateful for in Anchorage when it comes to our economy. Our housing market is in relatively good shape, and even though economic growth may not continue as it has over the last 20 years, our local economy is in better shape than most. There is much to cheer about, and yet, there are still challenges ahead for all of us.

It is important to take note of some positive activities. While crude oil prices are lower than what they were a year ago, exploration continues in Alaska. The three major oil companies all have spending plans that total in the billions of dollars. New department stores are opening, and while some companies in the lower 48 are closing stores, others are looking at Alaska as a new investment. The Economic Stimulus package has the potential of creating not only jobs, but also infrastructure development that we badly need.

New projects and opportunities must be pursued, and investment must be made in industries and technologies that will compliment Anchorage’s strategic location and existing assets: a dedicated workforce; a bustling port and airport; an unsurpassed quality of life; and the “roll-up-your-sleeves” attitude Alaskans are famous for. We must pursue a North Slope natural gas pipeline to serve Anchorage homes and businesses, with the intent of bringing more manufacturing to our region. This is a project that is critical to our long-term economic stability. But in order for Anchorage and Alaska to recognize the full benefit of a gas pipeline and projects like it, we also need a workforce that is trained and ready for the jobs a gas line will bring. We must encourage strong local educational programs in engineering, sciences, planning and related fields while creating incentives for young Alaskans to keep their expertise here in the state. As we work toward these more immediate goals, we also need to keep our sights on an overall diversification of Anchorage’s economy, getting away from the model of one or two dominant industries that leave us vulnerable to geopolitical and economic forces outside our control.

As we head into these uncertain times, I want to sincerely thank our former mayor, Mark Begich, for his service to the city in the past year and congratulate him on his new job as senator. Former Board Chair Brian Nerland also deserves thanks for his work on behalf of AEDC in 2008, as do the dedicated members of the Anchorage Assembly.

Dennis Mitchell, Vice President, Alaska Region
Lynden International

Download the full report (PDF file) here: 2008 AEDC Annual Report